|Not Just a Pretty Face
By: Casey Schoelen
Tennis champion Maria Sharapova is proving she is successful both on and off of the court. Sharapova first came into the limelight as the 17-year old winner of Wimbledon in 2004 and has since worked diligently to develop her empire as a brand, an entrepreneur, and a professional athlete. She has been the spokesperson for a variety of consumer brands, including Canon, Nike, Tiffany’s, and Cole Haan. Sharapova has also been featured in the coveted swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. It’s time she showed the world she is more than a pretty face and a champion tennis player. Last week, she launched her newest business endeavor: a candy shop.
Cleverly named “Sugarpova,” Sharapova’s gummy candy line has launched in partnership with high-end retailer Henri Bendel in New York City. The sweet treats are also available online and come in a variety of catchy flavors, such as “flirty,” “cheeky,” and “smitten sour.” While this is not the first consumer product line for Sharapova, as she partnered with Nike to create her own tennis apparel collection, it is the first edible delight. It is also an opportunity for Sharapova to maintain complete control of all decisions for once. According to her, “it’s the most exciting project I’ve ever done…it’s my own business, my own investment, my own money.” As a celebrity, it is important not only that Sharapova represent herself well to consumers, but any products she endorses or creates must also meet the same expectations in order to be authentic. In this case, Sugarpova products must reflect the refreshing personality of Sharapova herself, while also exceeding expectations of taste, quality, and texture. Sharapova is a champion on the court so one would expect Sugarpova to be an outstanding product in all facets.
It is difficult for any brand to get out of its comfort zone and the road has been long for Sharapova to break out of her own grand-slam champion shadow and build brand equity through success off the court. Personally creating and designing the gummy offerings is the first time Sharapova presents consumers with something uniquely hers. Even better, a portion of all sales will be given to the Maria Sharapova Foundation. Sugarpova is a terrific brand extension for Sharapova’s empire. Not only is it a nice change from every athlete- or celebrity-sponsored fragrance or clothing, it is actually a product consumers can afford, ringing in at $5.99 per bag. With any luck, Sharapova can really push Sugarpova with a US Open victory-induced spike in media attention. It must be so hard being an international tennis sensation!
Casey Schoelen is a young millennial excited and passionate about branding, advertising, and marketing. She is also a Nashville-native who loves traveling, reading the NYT, and watching sports.
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